Meet the courageous people who risk their lives to rescue North Korean refugees!
«We were so close to death. My mother and I huddled together to preserve warmth.»
About the movie:
In this equally important and heartbreaking documentary, ’Andy’ tells the horrifying story about how he and his mother, ‘Minji’, managed to escape from North Korea, and later from China.
They received crucial help from courageous people who are willing to put their own lives at risk, to help desperate refugees. "SAVED – Escape from Kim’s regime" is a movie about the refugees and the rescuers, a powerful story about human despair - and hope. As ‘Minji’ says:
«I thought we were going to die … I think God helped us.»
Would you like to host a screening of «Saved – Escape from Kim’s regime» in your home, small group, church etc? CONTACT US to get access to the movie.
Here are some suggestions for how to do it:
Once you’ve nailed down your screening’s date, time, and venue, it’s time to prepare for your event.
Invite guests via e-mail, facebook, phone, text or other social media. Spread the word by creating a Facebook event and sending updates via your Twitter feed. You can download posters for social media HERE. Include links to the Saved website or Facebook site on your chosen platforms.
Download and print THIS FLYER with information about the movie to hand out to guests.
Testrun your downloaded film a few days in advance. You’ll want to be sure that the picture that gets projected on your screen or wall is the right shape and size. Make sure your venue space is sufficiently darkened for the film, and that the screen can be seen from every angle where chairs are placed in the room.
Consider inviting a guest speaker to your event. This could be an expert on North Korea, on Freedom of Religion or Belief or Human Rights in general – or, if possible, a refugee from North Korea.
Consider offering some snacks during the event.
On the Day of Your Event:
Introduce the film and tell your audience why you were inspired to host it.
After the film ends, allow 30 minutes for discussion in small groups. Hand out printed questions to guide the discussion, extra rescue stories and Tim’s suggested action and prayer points, or project it on the screen.
Use the discussion questions listed below to engage your guests! Encourage your guests to act on what they’ve learned. If it’s appropriate, end your event with prayer, using Tim’s suggested prayer points as a starting point.
Did anything you learned in «Saved» surprise you? What made the biggest impression on you in the documentary? Why?
Andy and his mother Minji took a big risk by fleeing North Korea. Why do you think they chose to leave their home country? What would make you flee your country?
On their way, they actually bought poison so that they could kill themselves quickly if they got caught by Chinese border police. This is a common strategy among North Korean defectors. Why do you think they would rather die than be sent back?
(Can be skipped): Take some time to read stories of other rescued refugees. Tim often have to make hard choices, as resources are limited. If you only had money to rescue three of these defectors, who would you choose?
Why do you think China abdicates its responsibility according to international refugee law by forcibly repatriating North Korean escapees? What do you feel about your country’s response to the international refugee crisis?
Four out of ten North Koreans are undernourished, according to World Food Program. 1 in 5 children are stunted. How can sending seeds help? (World Food Programme)
Freedom of Religion or Belief does not exist in North Korea. The regime treats religion as a threat, particularly faiths associated with the West, such as Christianity, and is known to arrest, torture, imprison, and even execute religious believers. The broad scale persecution of Christians that has been carried out in North Korea since the 1950’s, has compelled the surviving church leaders and Christians to live life on a bare minimum level as underground Christians. How would it be for you to practice your faith or belief in such a secret way – always risking your and your families life if you were discovered?
Tim challenges the Christians in South Korea to reconsider how they use their money in light of the severe humanitarian crisis just across the border. Do you agree with his views? How do you feel about how the churches in your own country use money?
Tim says in the movie that «there is no question that it is a test of faith when you hear about some of the extraordinary treatment that North Koreans endure». What do you think he means? Do you agree with his explanation of God’s and man’s role in this crisis?
Read Tim’s suggested Action Points. Which of these do you think would be easiest to incorporate into your life? Do you have other suggestions for action?
«Andy» and «Minji» are defectors from North Korea who are now enjoying their life as new citizens in South Korea. Andy is studying and Minji is spending time with her family and in church. They are gratefull that they survived their flight from North Korea to China - and then to Laos and Thailand with the help of Tim Peters and his team.
Founder of Helping Hands Korea (HHK), is an internationally recognized Christian activist who for 23 years has pioneered a series humanitarian/human rights initiatives in response to North Korean refugee crisis and severe shortages of food and medicine inside the DPRK. Among Peters' most daunting challenges has been to forge grassroots strategies to help North Korea's persecuted underground church.
An international human rights activist, CK has devoted his retirement of 20+ years to North Korean human rights activities, including assistance to refugees fleeing the DPRK. CK's documentation of human rights abuses suffered by prisoners of North Korea's dreaded prison camp system contributed meaningfully to the UN's 2014 COI Report on human rights violations in North Korea, making a case for DPRK's 'crimes against humanity.'
Pastor Kim Hite
Noted for his compassion and personal bravery, Hite has risked his life on many occasions to assist North Korean refugees in China and surrounding countries. Despite unjust and harsh punishment by the PRC authorities for his rescue activities, Hite continues to work in partnership with HHK to rescue desperate North Korean escapees.
Director: Thea Elisabeth Haavet
Thea has been working in national TV in Norway since 1995. As SAI’s own film- and development producer (2014-2019), she has travelled the world with a camera, as a one-person-crew, and filmed the stories of the persecuted in places like Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and Korea. From June, she is an independent filmmaker again, but she continues to work for human rights and Freedom of Faith and Belief for all.
Editor: Thoralf Riiser
Thoralf has been working as an freelance editor for several different production companies in Norway, since 2005. He has worked for companies like Nordisk Film og TV and STRIX television that produces many TV-programmes for National TV in Norway. He has a great passion for storytelling; especially when it can mean a difference to people. Now he runs a small production company in Kristiansand, called IVIO AS, toghether with two other colleagues.
Here are Tim Peters’ answers to some questions that he often gets:
What does it cost to rescue one person?
The price varies for adults and children and depending on how difficult the rescue is, but the average per refugee is around $1,000.
Do you help people to flee from North Korea?
No! Almost never. This is a decision that everyone has to make on their own. It’s a kind of «voting with their feet». Helping Hands Korea helps refugees that have already fled to China and then ask for help because they are stuck in a very difficult situation, like women trapped in human trafficking. Read other typical rescue stories here: CLICK HERE
How many North Koreans has fled the country – and what do they risk?
It is a crime to leave North Korea. Yet increasing numbers of North Koreans dare to flee. Many North Koreans have defected from North Korea into China for food and freedom over the years. Their numbers have been estimated to be somewhere between 50,000 to 300,000 at any given time. These defectors are unquestionably eligible for refugee status under the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Nevertheless, the government of China has been systematically arresting and repatriating them to horrible persecution back in North Korea.
Why does China send back refugees to North Korea?
They consider them 'illegal economic migrants', etc. In addition, many China-watchers, myself included, believe that a principal reason China sends back North Korean escapees is to prevent the destabilization of the Kim regime. That is not to say that Bejing has any great fondness for the DPRK rulers; rather, the status quo in North Korea provides China certain advantages that it does not wish to lose. One of those advantages is maintaining North Korea as a 'buffer zone' between a successful and wealthy South Korea, and its American benefactor, and China's own North East provinces which could be attracted to the South Korean freedoms and lifestyle if reunification were to take place between South and North.
What is the risk of helping North Koreans defectors in China?
There are growing risks in recent years of punishment for Chinese citizens for providing assistance to fleeing North Koreans. About 10-15 years ago, the Chinese government used the 'carrot approach', i.e. giving monetary rewards to its citizens for turning in North Korean defectors. In the past 3-5 years, Chinese citizens who harbor or employ North Koreans for cheap labor are experiencing punitive measures from the government. Foreigners who are caught assisting North Korean refugees on Chinese soil run the risk of being imprisoned for up to seven years for the (false and unjust) accusation of 'human trafficking'.
How do you get in contact with the refugees that needs help?
Without revealing too much sensitive information, it can be said that there is a network of Christian workers throughout North East China who are on the alert for North Korean escapees who cross either the Tumen or Yalu Rivers. Through an informal communication network that extends into South Korea, it is possible to determine which refugees need the most urgent assistance due to factors such as age, gender, medical conditions, degree of danger and punishment in the event of forced repatriation, etc. Establishing this network is not an overnight phenomenon. It has evolved over many years.
Are the human rights abuses in North Korea well documentet?
In 2013, the UN Human Rights Council established the COI on North Korea, which in 2014 produced a comprehensive report which concluded that the ‘gravity, scale and nature’ of the violations of human rights in North Korea ‘reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.’ Later reports have stressed that the human rights violations perpetrated by the North Korean regime are ongoing. In terms of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief in particular, there is absolutely no change and any sign of any belief other than total devotion to the Kim family is severely punished.
How many Christians are there in North Korea today?
Nobody can say with absolute accuracy, but in my opinion, the best conservative estimates are roughly 200,000 to 250,000 for the entire nation.
How do the seeds reach North Korea?
Once again, sensitive security issues prevent us from being too specific. However, it can be said that the seeds are usually transported to China, then taken to the PRC/Border area. They are then entrusted to a sympathetic ethnic Korean-Chinese community, usually Christians, but not always. The Chinese Christians have their own interlocking relationship with the underground church in North Korea. Through a variety of means and couriers, transfer of seeds takes place, sometimes on North Korean territory and sometimes on Chinese soil. A variety of means and shifting strategies is good insurance against having the entire operation shut down.
Are things changing for the better in North Korea?
Perhaps the best answer is that certain 'pockets' of North Korea may be improving for various reasons, e.g. privileges and opportunities granted by the elite in the capital of Pyongyang OR proximity to foreign goods due to location adjacent to the Chinese border, OR on the coastline where ships can dock. By and large, however, the North Korean economy is stagnant and the greatest share of North Koreans are struggling to meet basic needs. 40 percentage of the entire DPRK population, 11 million citizens, are malnourished. This, in my opinion, is the best and most sobering measure of how serious the situation is inside North Korea.
Arrange a screening of «Saved – Escape from Kim’s regime» in your home, small group, church, school etc. Read more about how to do it HERE.
Organize grassroots church and civil society initiatives that highlight DPRK's dismal human rights record AND that can practically assist ordinary North Koreans in some ways.
Lobby your national leaders (executive and legislative branches especially) to actively engage in the UN’s Universal Periodic Review of the human rights situation in North Korea (DPRK)
Hold national leaders to account for foreign policy with China that often tends to favor business interests over human rights, especially China's longstanding policy of forced repatriation of North Korean refugees.
Search to see if any North Korean refugees are resettled in your country and area and see how you might help.
Start a vegetable seed-packing group of your own!
Write a letter to the people involved in the rescue work to encourage them in their work, or write an encouraging card to newly arrived refugees in South Korea. Send this to Tim.
Tim contributed to the Edinburgh Centenary Series in Oxford a case study chapter on missions and human rights work for North Koreans in crisis based on HHK’s 20+ years of fieldwork. Download the free PDF
The UN report that human rights activist C.K. Park has contributed to, as mentioned in the movie: Download
Here is the World Food Programme report on the food situation in North Korea: READ
Here is United States Commission on International Religious Freedom report on North Korea: Download
Here is Open Doors USA World Watch List on North Korea: READ
Here is Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s (Stefanus Alliance International’s sister organisation) recent report about changes in North Korea: READ